ChildFund Uganda to implement Shs 1 billion Early Childhood project in Busia

ChildFund Uganda started the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Education Improvement project worth over Shs 1 billion in Busia district.

The project which will run for three years is being implemented in partnership with Busia Area Communities Federation with support from Busia district local government. It is funded by ChildFund Korea and aims to reach over 2,900 children with access to early learning at the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers and 600 vulnerable households.

ChildFund Uganda recognizes that Early Childhood Development is a vital period for ensuring proper physical and cognitive growth of children, thus a crucial period for significant ECD interventions. In line with the government priorities of educating its children, ChildFund recognizes the benefits of increasing access to learning resources and the need for parents and caregivers to have the rightful information to support children’s learning needs in their early years.

According to ChildFund’s Education and Early Learning Specialist Lukiya Kibone, findings from a community assessment conducted in August 2020 highlighted several challenges facing ECD implementation in Busia communities.

“These included limited number of trained ECD facilitators, inadequate indoor and outdoor play and learning materials at the early learning centers, unfriendly learning environment, low male participation in ECD activities, low parent’s contribution towards children’s feeding in some communities owing to low household income.” She explains.

Kibone adds that the COVID- 19 pandemic has worsened the situation with restrictions on movement and slowing down of economic activities greatly impacting on the wellbeing of children.

She further explains that the disruptions to everyday life mean that young children are at home unable to attend early childhood education and care. They are entirely reliant on their parents for nurturing care to meet all their physical, emotional, social, and mental developmental needs

“This increased requirements by families to balance childcare and work responsibilities, coupled with economic instability and social isolation in some cases, makes some home environments unfriendly for children to grow and thrive.” She stresses.

Accordingly, this project will address the challenges of inadequate parenting skills at home, inadequate learning from home under COVID-19 restrictions, and low access to quality center based ECD services by children 3 to 5 years of age.

Dr. Charles Luwaga the ChildFund Programs Director says that the project objectives will be achieved through capacity building of parents of children, ECD teachers and community leaders in the project area in Busia.

He further explains that the project activities will focus on engaging parents about best practices of responsive and protective parenting and reinforcing child protection practices and measures for children while at home, in schools and ECD centers when they re-open.

“We will also focus on construction, refurbishing and equipping of more early learning centers with the required resources, and training of ECD caregivers and teachers of lower primary on ECD and transition management.” Luwaga says.

The project will also prioritize sensitization of caregivers on how to control the spread of COVID-19, and reducing its impact on children, supporting families with Income Generating Activities, and organizing them into Village Savings and Loan Association groups.

He also emphasizes that crosscutting issues like gender equality and disability will be incorporated in different project interventions to ensure that all categories of children aged 0-8 are taken care of.

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